Mazda Sports Cars
Mazda is the only carmaker in the world to successfully bring to market and mass-produce the rotary engine. It is a symbol of the company’s tirelessly challenging spirit and, as the soul of the Mazda brand, it represents the unique and innovative technology that helped establish the brand and create a solid bond between Mazda and its customers. That is why rotary engine research and development continues today, even though there are no rotary-powered cars in the current product lineup.
Mazda Sports Cars
Mazda has used a number of different marques in the Japan market, including Autozam, Eunos, and Efini, although they have been phased out. In the early 1990s Mazda almost created a luxury marque, Amati, to challenge Acura, Infiniti, and Lexus in North America, but this never happened, leaving the near-luxury Millenia to the Mazda brand.
Mazda Sports Cars
If you want to talk about rare performance cars from Mazda’s past, bring up the Eunos Cosmo in conversation. This speed demon existed almost exclusively overseas. In fact, only a few ever made it to America, as the Cosmo has been one of the many illegal, banned cars on the government’s list. Mazda had plans to challenge Lexus with the Cosmo performance line, but nixed the idea in the exploratory phase. Too bad: Eunos Cosmo could hit 60 miles per hour in six seconds flat and ran the quarter mile in about 14 seconds. Top speeds exceeded 150 miles per hour.
Mazda Sports Cars
Mazda’s vision is to deliver true driving pleasure that will earn its cars a position as the customer’s partner, and will enrich their motoring lives. That motivates Mazda to continually defy convention and push the boundaries, building cars that match its unique vision.
Mazda Sports Cars
If you want to talk about Mazda performance cars, you have to include the rotary-engine RX-7 in the conversation. Between its 1978 launch and its final U.S. model in 1995, the RX-7 was the car that kept critics and enthusiasts alike in thrall. Capable of reaching 60 miles per hour in just 5.3 seconds, it had the quickness drivers crave. The RX-7 had a variety of trims and variations that hit the market, but the final version (launched in 1991) still holds true as one of Mazda’s fastest to this day. It could reach a top speed of 155 miles per hour.
Mazda Sports Cars
When you think about automotive muscle, you probably don’t think about Mazda. The Japanese company, founded in 1920 in Hiroshima, has long been known for delivering agility — or, as the automaker calls it, “zoom-zoom” — in vehicles to consumers around the world. Mazda MX-5 Miata, the brand’s most famous product, serves as a perfect example of what lightweight construction and just enough power can do for a sports car.
To prove it, we rounded up 15 of the fastest Mazda cars the automaker has ever produced. Several models were not released in the United States and were instead found overseas, but if they existed and had performance records, then we included them. We avoided concept cars, however. In determining the brand’s fastest cars, we looked at top speed and quarter mile times, as well as their all-important acceleration powers.
True, you don’t hunt out a Mazda when you want brute force. There are countless Ford Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros, and Dodge Chargers from the last 50 years to help you out on that front. Instead, you go to Mazda to get the most zoom for every horse the engine can produce. This way, you can still get your speed fix even if you aren’t blowing the doors off a Shelby at the stoplight.
Today’s car consumers may not be aware of Mazda’s performance history, but it was definitely worth noting in decades past. A prime example would be the RX-8, a spiritual (if not mechanical) descendant of the RX-7, which was itself the brand’s hottest thing, starting in the late 1970s. By the early 2000s, Mazda had dispensed with the RX-7 and made the RX-8, a less potent but still capable ride. Edmunds ran the base model to 60 miles per hour in 6.6 seconds, and to the quarter mile in 15.1 seconds.
The top of the line for the Mazda RX-8 was the Spirit R variation. This limited edition model, which could burst from zero to 60 miles per hour in 6.5 seconds, became something of a sensation in the past decade. Originally slated for a production run of 1,000 units, the Spirit R’s popularity compelled Mazda to run out another 1,000 to satisfy the market demand. It could fly past 140 miles per hour using its 232 horsepower, and it had feature style cues that made it a bona fide collector’s item.
Naturally, Mazda can only do so much bragging without a Miata ending up on its fastest list. The 2017 MX-5 Miata delivers on all counts. Car and Driver testers needed just 5.8 seconds to sprint to 60 miles per hour in this model. (Road and Track got there in 6.1 seconds.) With a top speed of 129 miles per hour, the latest Miata is a worthy successor to Mazda’s greatest models.
The Mazdaspeed 6 was a performance version of the midsize sedan that launched in 2005. At the time, Mazda estimated it could hit 60 miles per hour in 6.2 seconds, and most tests made that claim look conservative. (Car and Driver got there in 5.4 seconds in 2007.) This model peaked at 274 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, giving it the goods to outrun every Mazda car in production as of 2017. Testers actually got close to 150 miles per hour in this one.
In Mazda’s recent history, the speedy 3 hatchback is probably the brand’s fastest car. It peaked at 148 miles per hour in Car and Driver tests, and ran to 60 in 5.8 seconds with Motor Trend drivers behind the wheel. Rumors of a new Mazdaspeed 3 have been in the air for years, but for now Mazda is letting this legend continue. We can’t say when — or if — there will be another for consumers in the near future. Used models would be your best bet. The last edition ran in the 2013 model year.
As with the RX-8 special edition that arrived later, Mazda RX-7 Spirit R was the final, peak model for this performance legend. Since it never made it to America, rare isn’t even an adequate term to describe it. RX-7 Spirit R was an impractical car — calling it a gas-guzzler would be kind — and it had more power than it claimed (emissions controls). Regardless, everyone who ever got behind the wheel reported pure bliss and acceleration times better than in any other Mazda. The RX-7 Spirit could hit 60 miles per hour in five seconds, and it topped 150 miles per hour.
What Might Go Wrong: The rotary engine has a well-earned reputation for low thermal efficiency, which translates to poor fuel mileage. If Mazda fails to make major strides reducing gas (and oil) consumption, sports-car customers will be hesitant to embrace the RX-9 no matter what it brings to the speed-and-handling party.
Drivers looking for maximum fun on a minimal budget should look no further than the 2017 Mazda MX-5 Miata. No other car in its price range can come close to its corner-carving agility. It may not have the most potent powertrain in a sports car, but its standard manual transmission will give enthusiasts plenty to enjoy when choosing the right gear. The Miata also earns excellent fuel economy estimates compared to rivals. Aside from the thrills of top-down cruising, the Miata is well-equipped with tech features, and there are more optional safety features in the MX-5 than in nearly every competitor.
While Mazda’s signature sports car is by no means a road warrior, there are several editions of the Miata that pack a punch. Take the Mazdaspeed MX-5 from 2004. This handsome roadster got some extra kick in terms of horsepower (178, to be exact) and aerodynamic upgrades. The fellows from Car and Driver took one to the track in mid-aughts and returned with very favorable impressions: This Miata hit 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds, and vaulted to 127 miles per hour at its peak.
THE 2017 MAZDA6 A safer driver starts with smarter technology. Get maximum confidence and enjoyment out of your drive knowing that Mazda’s available advanced safety systems are constantly working to alert you to potential hazards, help avert collisions, or reduce their severity. Learn More
Platform: Even though the concept’s 106.3-inch wheelbase is substantially longer than the MX-5’s, key body and chassis components could be shared, given the common front-engine, rear-drive layout. Mazda also has a wealth of Skyactiv components that could come in handy here.
Powertrain: Mazda acknowledges that 50 engineers have toiled eight years developing a new 16X two-rotor engine. The company even filed a patent for a new rotary engine earlier this year. Direct fuel injection, turbocharging, and a displacement 23 percent greater than the RX-8’s 1.3-liter will help clear the hoped-for 400-hp hurdle. Switching from iron to aluminum for the end plates (analogous to portions of a piston engine’s block) yields a significant mass savings.
While researching and writing this Mazda Miata review, we analyzed 15 data sets, including predicted reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and published automotive reviews. We know you have a lot of options when researching which car is right for you, so we’ve gathered all the information you need in one place and present it here in a consumer-oriented manner.